Mercy Begins Push for Plasma Donations

November 17, 2020

With a rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Mercy is proactively reaching out to patients to ask them to consider becoming plasma donors.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the liquid portion of blood from recovered COVID-19 patients, called convalescent plasma, may contain antibodies. These antibodies may help others as they’re fighting the virus. 

Arkansas Blood Institute in the River Valley and Community Blood Center of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas are urging recovered COVID-19 patients to sign up to donate convalescent plasma. Donors are eligible if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and symptom free for 14 days prior to donation. If patients have received convalescent plasma or a blood donation as part of their treatment, they must wait three months to donate their own convalescent plasma.

“Time is of the essence in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Arkansas Blood Institute. “Even a brief delay in transfusing convalescent plasma may cost someone their life or prolong the severe symptoms of this virus. We are urging anyone who has recovered from COVID-19, or who has tested positive for the antibodies, to take the time to donate convalescent plasma as soon as possible so that our fellow Arkansans suffering the worst symptoms of the coronavirus can be treated swiftly and get on the road to recovery.” 

Using the MyMercy app and online patient portal, Mercy is sending a message to patients, asking those who tested positive if they’re willing to learn more about giving plasma. Donors need to be fully recovered for 28 days before donating plasma. 

“We’re still learning about COVID antibodies,” said JoAnne Levy, vice president of Mercy Research. “Our goal is to contact potential donors and receive convalescent plasma when antibody levels may possibly be at their highest. That way, the donated plasma may be the most effective in helping others. And, as we learn more, we’ll adapt our approaches.”

Once the patient is qualified, plasma will be drawn. A single plasma donation can provide therapeutic plasma for up to four seriously ill patients.

Until now, the Mercy Research team has been calling recovered patients to see if they’re willing to donate. The MyMercy message will streamline the process for everyone. “Patients will be able to hit a button that indicates they’re interested,” said Laura Canter, manager of non-oncology research for Mercy. “Then we can reach out to them accordingly.”

Mercy patients who do not have a MyMercy account can contact [email protected] for more information. River Valley patients who received a positive COVID-19 test from a health care provider other than Mercy can reach out directly to the Arkansas Blood Institute by visiting bit.ly/covid19-registry or calling 888-308-3924. In Northwest Arkansas, patients can contact Community Blood Center of the Ozarks by calling 417-227-5324.